29 September 2023 01:57 PM

Speech by President El-Sisi at 22nd COMESA Summit

Thursday، 08 June 2023 - 03:05 PM

“In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

My brother, Your Excellency President Hakainde Hichilema, President of the Republic of Zambia,

Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA),

Ms. Chileshe Kapwepwe, Secretary General of the COMESA,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to be with you today in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, to participate in the 22nd COMESA Summit whose theme is: “Economic Integration for a Thriving COMESA Anchored on Green investment, Value Addition and Tourism”.

Allow me, at the beginning of my speech, to express my sincere appreciation to my brother, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia, for the generous hospitality and warm welcome we have seen, which is expected from the hospitable Zambian people. I also extend my thanks to the COMESA General Secretariat for the good preparation and arrangement for our meeting today.

It was a great honor for Egypt to take over the leadership of the COMESA over the past two years during a very delicate period that witnessed important developments at the international and regional levels. Egypt, in turn, has set its sight on well-defined goals during its chairmanship of the COMESA which focus on advancing economic integration rates. The aim is to enhance the level of well-being of our peoples and promote the capabilities of peace and security in our countries. However, despite the successes that have been achieved, we still have a lot to do to make our regional integration able to face the current challenges.

In this regard, allow me to present the most important achievements over the past two years. With regard to the field of economic development, Egypt has paid great attention to activating the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement and achieving harmony between it and COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area, through specific measures to urge member states to implement customs exemptions and facilitate the movement of trade exchange among them. These efforts resulted in an increase in intra-exports of the COMESA to reach $13 billion in 2022, the highest value since the establishment of the free trade zone, within the framework of the COMESA in 2000. This is in addition to the increase in the size of trade exchange between Egypt and the COMESA countries, during the same year, to reach its highest value, $4.3 billion, since Egypt joined the COMESA.

In the same context, Egypt introduced the regional industrial integration initiative, within the framework of the COMESA industrialization strategy 2017-2026. It aims to deepen industrial production by linking regional value chains, according to the competitive advantage of countries. In this regard, I would like to praise the role of the COMESA Regional Investment Agency, which is hosted by Egypt, to attract investments in the COMESA countries, with the need to continue the ongoing efforts so as to direct these investments to the industrial sector.

In this regard, Egypt has focused on the infrastructure sector by encouraging interconnection projects between Member States, the most prominent of which is the interconnection project between Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean Sea. I call on the General Secretariat to intensify efforts to mobilize the necessary financial resources to implement these projects.

Allow me to highlight one of the projects which brings pride to our continent and has shown that cooperation among our States is fruitful once there is a political will: Julius Nyerere Hydropower Plant and Dam. This giant project is being implemented in the fraternal country of Tanzania by Egyptian and Tanzanian hands. It is to generate electric power amounting to 2.5 Gigawatt. The Egyptian companies carrying out the project have demonstrated that they have expertise and capabilities, enabling them to implement projects with international standards which Egypt looks forward to sharing with the fraternal African countries.

In the field of pharmaceutical manufacturing, it was necessary to shed light on the medical and health sector within the COMESA, particularly in view of the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Accordingly, Egypt submitted a proposal for the establishment of the COMESA Committee on Health and also hosted the first session of the Africa Health ExCon, whose second edition is held this year, to explore means of investing in this vital area. Moreover, Egypt has devoted more attention to invest in the localization of the pharmaceutical and vaccine industry until it had been announced that Egypt is providing 30 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to African countries. This confirms Egypt's role as a regional hub for the manufacture of medical vaccines.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In areas of peace and security, it is clear that the scale and depth of the challenges that our countries face to sustain peace and security imposes on us the need to adhere to a number of key determinants and principles. The most important of them are the need to respect the right of all peoples of African States to life and to settle disputes, conflicts and issues that threaten this right, as well as to preserve our national institutions since it is the backbone of the stability of States and the security of their peoples, and to safeguard their highest interests.

What has been previously mentioned leads us to refer to the recent developments in some of our States, notably the brotherly country of Sudan, which is facing challenges, thus requiring us to join forces to support its people. I emphasize, here, that Egypt is assuming its responsibilities as a direct neighboring country by making all endeavors, with the active parties and international partners, and engaging in existing mechanisms to ensure coordination between them in order to reach “a secure and stable Sudan". In relation to this, Egypt continues to host the people of the brotherly State of Sudan. I call on all States to provide the necessary support to our brothers and sisters at this delicate historical moment.

In my capacity as the one in charge of the post-conflict reconstruction and development file at the level of the African Union, I affirm here that Egypt will spare no effort to provide all means of support to our fraternal States on their path towards development. I would also like to announce Egypt's candidacy to the African Peace and Security Council for the term 2024 – 2026, as Egypt acknowledges its responsibilities to support peace and security efforts on our continent.

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Upon receiving the chairmanship of the COMESA in 2021, I pledged to work diligently and sincerely to deepen economic integration among the countries of the region. Now, after the end of Egypt's chairmanship of the COMESA, I reiterate my pledge to you to continue to work in coordination with all our brothers towards the implementation of the objectives of the African Development Agenda 2063, particularly with Egypt assuming the chairmanship of the African Union Development Agency, NEPAD, over the next two years.

In conclusion, allow me to announce the end of Egypt's chairmanship of the COMESA and it is my pleasure to hand over the chairmanship of the COMESA to my brother, President of the Republic of Zambia, His Excellency President Hichilema. I am fully confident that he will do all he can to build on the achievements of the Egyptian chairmanship, wishing His Excellency and his government all the best and success. I would like to announce the new bureau of the COMESA Summit which includes the Republic of Zambia as president, the Republic of Burundi as vice-chairman and the Arab Republic of Egypt as rapporteur.

Thank you.

May Allah’s peace, mercy and blessings be upon you."

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